State of the Cap: Chicago Bulls

Wed, 07/27/2011 - 6:00am

2011/12 Payroll: $61.6 million
2011/12 (Projected) NBA Salary Cap: $54 million
Roughly: $7.6 million over cap

Derrick RoseDerrick RoseHighlights: It doesn’t take a genius to see that Derrick Rose is the centerpiece of this Bulls team. The All-NBA First Teamer continued his meteoric rise to super stardom by raising his scoring average to 25 per game (7th in the league) and his assists to 7.7 per game (10th in the league) taking home MVP honors when he could still be in college. Rose has been nearly unstoppable going to the hoop, which makes him a great 4th quarter finisher. He even rises to the occasion in the playoffs, scoring 39 in a first round game against Indiana and 44 in a second round game against the Hawks. Even though the Heat were able to stymie Rose in the Eastern Conference playoffs, there is little doubt that a team can win a championship with Rose as the best player. In this league, that is very select company. Rose will earn just under $7 million next season, the last year on his rookie contract, making him one of the biggest steals in the NBA. He’ll be getting max money very soon, so the Bulls had better be ready. At least Rose is one of the few that is worth it.

Taj Gibson has been another good bargain for this team. Gibson is one of Chicago’s key bench players. His minutes went down with the arrival of Carlos Boozer but he remained efficient, putting up 7.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. At just $1.2 and $2.1 million the next two seasons, Gibson is a very affordable option to provide bench depth and his youth means he should only get better.

Lowlights: The Chicago Bulls had a lot of success last season, but it came at a price… an unfriendly cap price. Last summer, the Bulls signed free-agent Carlos Boozer for five years and about $75 million. Then, in October, they extended the contract of center Joakim Noah for five years and $60 million. With Luol Deng still owed $40 million the next three years, Chicago has an awful lot of salary tied to just three players.

I don’t doubt that those three players are pretty good, I just don’t think they should be paid as much as they are. Boozer has been an efficient, double-double machine throughout his career and averaged 17.5 points and 9.6 rebounds this season. But a yearly salary of $13.5 to $16.8 million is superstar money, and Carlos Boozer is NOT a superstar. He is also very injury prone, missing 23 games this year and large chunks of three other seasons in his NBA career. Joakim Noah is a good center and a player you want to have on your team, but for $10 to $14.2 million a year? That is a lot of money for someone who is good but not great. His 10.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game are nice, they just aren’t quite worth the money he’ll be making, especially with an 11.7 scoring average. And Luol Deng has been a good second or third option on this team. He scored 17.5 points per game, contributed on the glass with 5.8 boards per game, and he shot decent percentages from the field. But would you consider those numbers to be spectacular? Hardly. Yet Deng will still be paid $12.3 to $14.3 million each of the next three years.

It’s not out of the ordinary for the NBA’s best teams to overpay on talent. As long as the wins are there and the playoff runs go deep, the money is usually worth it. However, the problem here is that all three of those players are overpaid by about $4 to $5 million per year. That adds up to $12 to $15 million per year in wasted dollars that could be better spent elsewhere. Still on the fence? Consider this: the Bulls have $50.9 million in player salaries on the books for the 2012/13 season and none of those players are named Derrick Rose. Now you see the problem. Rose is the guy most responsible for the team’s success. Everyone else is just helping out. You need good secondary players to play with your star, but they shouldn’t be making nearly as much as the star. With the new CBA in negotiations, there is no telling what the rules may be in the future concerning the salary cap. That $12 to $15 million could have been used to easily fit Derrick Rose into their cap or make future upgrades on their bench or at shooting guard. Instead, the Bulls will find it more difficult to make future roster moves.

The Future: Chicago is in a great place as one of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference and they look like they should be there for a while. But to get over the hump, a few things will need to go right. Boozer must stay healthy. Noah must continue to improve and keep his head on straight. And the Bulls must improve their bench.

They were 25th in the league in bench scoring and they don’t really have anyone that can light it up some nights to provide a big spark. Kyle Korver is an excellent three point shooter and fills that role well, but he isn’t much of a scorer beyond the one or two threes he’ll make every game and he doesn’t contribute in other areas (and at $5 million a year, he should). Ronnie Brewer is a decent defender but he doesn’t stretch the floor at all and scores even less than Korver. Taj Gibson is a good young forward, but beyond him there isn’t anyone on the Chicago bench that excites me or causes opposing teams to take notice.

They are especially weak at backup point guard, which means Rose has to play heavy minutes during the regular season. C.J. Watson just isn’t getting the job done so the Bulls would do well to find an upgrade at their back up PG spot. The Bulls could use someone in the Luke Ridnour mold to hold down the fort while Rose gets some rest. Just how important is your bench? The Dallas Mavericks were #2 in bench scoring last season. The Miami Heat were dead last. If Chicago can find a way to upgrade their reserves, the Bulls will be poised to knock off the Heat next season. However, with all the money they’ve already spent on their roster, finding good upgrades will be problematic.

Grade: B-

thparadox's picture
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I think the Deng contract is fair. It's not exactly a bargain. But he plays very good defence, taking on the best wing player and often shutting them down. He does as good a job on Lebron as you could ask for.

Deng is more of a 3rd scoring optiont who can go off for 20 pts on any given night. But he's a dominant defensive force, and so I think he earns his contract.

If Noah is overpaid, it's not by much. He is a force on the interior, which is crucial for this team. It's not easy to find reliable defensive anchors. He's also better on offense than people give him credit for. In particular, he's an excellent passer. Sure, he's not a scorer on offense, but he makes a positive contribution.

Boozer is the real issue...

iguapops420's picture
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If NOah keeps his head on

If NOah keeps his head on straight. WTF, Noah eats breathes and sleeps B-Ball and hustle. He's no worry. The only guy I see as overpaid is Boozer and mostly just because of how Chitown uses him honestly.

flybobbyfly's picture
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Deng is just too african to

Deng is just too african to guard lebron.

esperanzafleet69's picture
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didnt noah have pictures of himself with naked chicks smoking weed on a beach somewhere in france pop up last offseason?

Krypt Guss
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Can the Bulls get rid of Boozer PLEASE?

Obviously, for a shooting guard. Taj Gibson has the ability to start for this team after what he showed for us in these playoffs. Boozer in the playoffs was, like his whole career, mediocre at best :/

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Ok your all right Boozer was

Ok your all right Boozer was the playoff problem but rather he gives you 20pts or 10 he still is double team threat he's going to valuble if we find a nice shooting gaurd to spred the floor...Plus we might as well deal with him because nobody is going to touch that contract he has left at the age of 29. As for the back up PG wtf is this guy talking about we need a PG in the Luke Ridnour mode???? whats so special about him somebody please explain.....

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If you hadn't watched an NBA game, this article would have you thinking the bulls finished 8th in the east. LA is in a worse cap situation then Chicago, with an old team not going anywhere. Chicago's oldest relavent player is Boozer at 29. Deng is 26, Noah 26, Rose 22. A B- is a little silly for a team that's only 7 mil over the cap, but won 62 games and lost in the finals with improving talent.

Also, Deng really isn't overpaid by any means. He plays about 39 mins and although he's not scoring tons of buckets, he plays great defense and plays 3 positions on the floor. Noah should improve on his 10-10 numbers by remaining healthy. He's a legit center in the same league as Al Horford who btw, will make more.

This article just doesn't seem to make much sense.

JunkYardDog's picture
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I'm agree with all oh your

I'm agree with all oh your comments...

the bench is maybe overpaid (korver end brewer) but players as asik, gibson are perfect coming of the bench and good bargain for young progressing players. I also think cj watson is not the worst backup pg in the league (can hit the three, create to score when need and play with energy).

You can't say deng or noah are overpaid when you saw them playing great last years and even better during the playoffs, they are great defensive presence at their position and match perfectly wwith thibodeaux's philosophy and gameplan... they know their roles and play them perfectly. They are not superstars but perfect fit for suporting rose and his lieutenant....

...and that is the real issue : there is no real quality lieutenant (at the 4 or the 2) behind rose .


I rarely saw an "over the cap" article so wrong and badly oriented in this site. :o

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boozer is the issue

im in total agreement that the boozer deal is the issue hes getting paid super star money and he just isnt a superstar

i'm jus so offended
i'm jus so offended's picture
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uhhhh Noah does not have his

uhhhh Noah does not have his head on straight, there are also pictures of him in a head shop checking out bongs...

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Joined: 06/22/2011
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The Bulls are fine

All the Bulls need is a wing who can shoot the ball and has decent handles. I'm not even saying spend a lot of cash to get one. Just a guy that when the defense collapses on Rose on the drive he has someone to dish to. A dude who can hit a jumper or take it to the hoop. A J.R. Smith type, with maybe a little less attitude. Rudy Fernandez would have been a nice fit when the Blazers were moving him. Otherwise the team is fine. And stop hating on Boozer, everyone knows what you get with Carlos and he just isin't the best fit on the Bulls maybe but who else on the team down low can score the ball?

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